Welcome to FOX Sports’ Live Formula One blog from the Yas Marina circuit! We have all the latest commentary from the Thursday driver press conference prior to Sunday’s Abu Dhabi GP.
Alonso Still Pushing To The End Of The Season
Fernando Alonso was in a philosophical mood Thursday as he reflected on yet another season without securing a third World Championship.
Alonso stated that he intends to end the year with some good results as he tries to secure second place.
“I think we need to be realistic, knowing that we didn’t have the chance this year to fight for the championship,” he said. “In the beginning of the year we were a little bit closer, but then we were not quick enough, and we are fighting now for other targets, which is [second in] the Constructors’ Championship and second place in the Drivers’ as well, which was not the main priority when we started the season, but still a good target to achieve and a good thing for the team, to help them.
“We’ll see. I think we need to keep very focused in the remaining races and try to do our best and obviously with half of our mind thinking of 2014 because we are competitive people, we want to win. This year it was not possible, but next year we start from zero.”
Meanwhile, Alonso was not too impressed by a question about his relationship with Ferrari: “It’s fantastic. Obviously, every weekend I repeat the same thing. So I guess in Austin on Thursday the first question in the press conference will be how is my relationship with the team. … It was perfect, it’s perfect and it will be perfect.”
Hamilton Believes Performance Will Improve In 2014
Lewis Hamilton says he’s working to iron out any weaknesses in his own performance as he prepares for 2014.
Hamilton is adamant that Mercedes will give Red Bull a hard time next year.
“They’ve done an incredible job for some time now, so you know, they’ve raised the bar and everyone just needs to work harder,” said Hamilton. “Us, as a team, we’re working as hard as we can to really put the energy into next year and hope that we can compete with them. That’s ultimately what I’d love to do, and ultimately what the team desires, too.
“That’s what the dream is. There’s a long steep curve for us to climb or hill for us to climb for next year, but it’s more of a level starting ground for everyone, and you can either get it right or wrong. Hopefully, we’re on the right side.
“This year hasn’t been perfect for me and I’m always trying to learn and improve. There are lots of areas that can always be improved on, from myself and from the team, and we’re just working on those because we don’t want to carry the negatives of anything we have into next year.”
Maldonado Still Making Mind Up On 2014
Pastor Maldonado stated that he still doesn’t know which team he will drive for in 2014 – and insisted that the decision is in his hands.
The Venezuelan has been closely linked to Lotus, amid much speculation that a deal has already been completed. Meanwhile, Sauber has also been mentioned as a possible destination. Not surprisingly, his huge PVDSA budget is much in demand, although the sponsor currently has a contract with Williams.
His situation has created something of a hindrance in the driver market.
“At the moment I don’t have a decision yet,” Maldonado said. “The decision will be down to me, so I prefer to take some more time. I really hope to have a decision before the end of the season. There are still a couple of weeks to go, so we’ll see. I cannot guarantee I will leave the team, or I will stay. The decision is very important. It’s my third season in my career, so it’s a very important moment professionally for me, and I will want to have the best decision for my future.”
Asked if Lotus was his preferred option, he said: “I cannot mention that at the moment. I have some offers and I’m analyzing that very well. I have to have the best decision for myself.”
Maldonado made it clear that various factors would play a part in his choice.
“Many things. It’s not easy as a driver to choose a team, especially when everything will be new for next year. I’ve been here for three years, so it will maybe be an advantage to stay in the team, because I know everyone here. In another team it will be something like starting from zero. I will not be the first one doing that in history. We’ll see.
“Apart from that you have many factors, you need to see who will work with you and for you, the projects, engines, many things. The people, the feeling is very important, to have a good feeling with the people around. Budgets, all the budget plans, it’s very important. I’m taking my time because I need to feel comfortable.”
Vettel Enjoys Quality Time At Home After Title Win
Following an informal victory party at a hotel in India on Sunday night, Sebastian Vettel headed home to Switzerland for a couple of days before returning to duty in Abu Dhabi.
The four-time World Champion says that he enjoyed the chance to relax and recharge his batteries after the release of winning in Delhi.
“Well, the reaction has been very positive,” said Vettel. “Obviously, great relief when I crossed the line on Sunday, a great feeling. Sunday night, obviously the whole team still had to do the pack-up, but we had a little bit of fun in the hotel bar – quite spontaneous. Obviously, there’s not a lot of time between the race in India and the race here, so the team is very busy.
“So we couldn’t go completely mad, but I had a time on Sunday night and then I had two days at home before coming here — again fairly quiet, not very spectacular. I just enjoyed the peace at home. I had some time for myself, back with my girlfriend, as well. So, fairly quiet.”
Vettel made it clear that the team won’t be backing off in the remaining races, despite the title being in the bag.
“Well, I don’t think we approach the weekend as if there’s nothing to gain. I think we – as a fact – we love what we’re doing. We enjoy the challenge and that’s why there’s no question as to why we are here and what we have to do. We want to race, race the others as hard as possible. If we have a chance, we want to win. As I said, I had some quiet days at home which was good, to sober up after India and get ready for here.”
However, he says he’s taking nothing for granted: “To be honest, I’m not getting in the car and thinking that there’s a guarantee that we will do well. Maybe that’s a little bit the impression that you get from the outside; obviously, since the summer break we’ve won all the races but we come here and there’s absolutely no guarantee that we will do well, so we have to give it everything we have.
“Yes, we have a strong package, so I think we have reason to be confident. I need the team. I think the team needs Mark (Webber) and myself to push the car to the limit and to get some good results. There’s no guarantee for what we’ve been doing the last couple of races to make it last.”
Ward Tackles Todt Over FIA’s ‘Lack Of IOC Standards’
FIA presidential candidate David Ward has taken another shot at rival Jean Todt by pointing out discrepancies between the way the FIA operates and the guidelines laid down by the International Olympic Committee.
Todt sees his successful efforts at getting the FIA recognized by the IOC as one of his biggest achievements.
However, Ward has written to FIA member clubs to point out the apparent anomalies in the arrangement.
Ward wrote: “Jean Todt claims that, ‘Membership of this family of international sports organizations once again proves that the FIA can now boast the highest standards of governance.’ For this claim to be true, one would expect that the FIA fully respects the standards set out in the IOC’s ‘Basic Universal Principles of Good Government of the Olympic and Sports Movement’ and also that the newly created Ethics Committee would be structured along identical lines to the IOC’s equivalent body. Unfortunately, neither is the case.
“Disappointingly, the FIA consistently falls short of the IOC’s principles and best practices. The attached document compares some of the key IOC’s governance principles with FIA practice. It reveals weaknesses in the FIA election process, an Ethics Committee undermined by a flawed composition and reporting system, an absence of financial transparency, and lack of international accounting standards.
“All of these weaknesses would be easily overcome if the FIA simply followed closely the guidance offered by the principles and practice of the IOC. So rather than boast that recognition by the IOC leaves the FIA with no need for further governance reform, I think the FIA’s membership of the Olympic and Sports Movement creates new responsibilities to apply the IOC’s good governance principles.
“In fact, the FIA now has a duty to uphold the ‘Fundamental Principles of Olympism.’ This includes the ‘responsibility of ensuring that principles of good governance be applied.’ That is why I believe the FIA should now take action to fulfill these important and outstanding obligations.”
Ward goes on to suggest that there should be an independent review of the way the FIA operates. More on his suggestions can be found here.